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Pennsylvania Republicans Fear Trump-Led Ticket

Image: Pennsylvania Republicans Fear Trump-Led Ticket
(Lisa Hornak / Reuters)

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Monday, 14 Dec 2015 02:32 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Pennsylvania Republicans are fearful that Donald Trump could wind up on the ballot in 2016 — possibly endangering the re-election of GOP Sen. Pat Toomey and the 13 Republican House members.

Many made their views known during the annual Pennsylvania Society weekend held at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Donald Trump was booked as the speaker at a $1,000 per plate event at The Plaza Hotel on Friday, and several prominent Pennsylvania Republicans boycotted the event.

However, Republicans I talked to almost universally refused to attack the controversial presidential hopeful or say they wouldn’t support Trump if he became their nominee.

“There’s no doubt Trump could hurt the Republicans in Pennsylvania — particularly Toomey,” said G. Terry Madonna, director for the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall, a college professor and premier pollster in Pennsylvania.

This is especially true, Madonna emphasized, “Because we’re facing the death of ticket splitting in Pennsylvania. We’re increasingly becoming a straight ticket state and 90 percent of Pennsylvanians now vote a straight ticket.”

“And I’m concerned about that — we’ve got to bring Sen. Toomey through,” Earl Baker, former state senator and state Republican chairman told me. “Look, we’ve got a senator who is one of the top targets of the Democrats in ’16. And we’ve got 13 Republican House members, some of whom could be in danger as well.”

“What’s needed in Pennsylvania is not Trump,” said Baker, a supporter of Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president.

Lowman Henry, longtime conservative activist who was just named to head Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign in the April primary, agreed. Cruz, he said, “can win over Trump’s supporters, and there are a lot of them in Pennsylvania, without alienating independents or backers of the other candidates.”

James Pickard, former state commerce secretary, said, “I like a lot of Trump’s message, particularly on being tougher on immigration and on national security. We’re not properly screening people who come into this country. He’s right on that.” But, Pickard quickly added, “Trump doesn’t know how to deliver that message to bring new people on his side, He’s a showman.”

He said he would “pull the lever” if Trump is the nominee but “would like to be for Kasich.”

Pickard’s remarks on Trump, like those of Baker and Henry, were all worded in a way not to upset the insurgent candidate or his supporters. The same was true in the words of two of the Republican House members who will be on the Pennsylvania ballot next fall.

“I don’t think Mr. Trump would be good for the top of the ticket in Pennsylvania,” GOP Rep. Pat Meehan told me. Pressed as to whether he could become the presidential nominee, Meehan simply said, “The party will determine that.”

Meehan’s words were echoed by fellow Rep. Glenn Thompson, who told me: “I can’t control who our nominee [for president] will be. And I’m not counting on the top of the ticket. I’m responsible for my own race.”

As to whether a Trump-led ticket would bring down Toomey and other endangered office-seekers, Thompson said: “Barack Obama motivated people and brought out a lot of first-time voters. Would Donald Trump bring out new, first-time voters as well? Who knows?”

For their part, Pennsylvania Democrats, who gathered at the Waldorf Astoria, left no doubts that they knew very well what Trump would do in their state if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee.

Former Gov. and Democratic National Chairman Ed Rendell, who was named “Pennsylvanian of the Year” along with wife Marjorie, spoke for many Democrats when he said: “I am for Donald Trump for president. Nothing would make me happier that to see Donald Trump nominated in Cleveland next year.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.                                                                                                                                                  

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Pennsylvania Republicans are fearful that Donald Trump could wind up on the ballot in 2016 — possibly endangering the re-election of GOP Sen. Pat Toomey and the 13 Republican House members.
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Monday, 14 Dec 2015 02:32 PM
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